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Teachers Day Special - Good Teachers are Great Thinkers

Updated on September 3, 2019
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Prof. Rupal Jain, M.B.A, M.COM, PGDMM, PGDRM, DARP. Over 7 years of teaching exp. Author of 14 published books. Over 100 online articles.

Good Teachers are Great Thinkers!

Good Teachers Are Great Thinkers:-

I firmly believe, Teachers are NOT just academicians, they are THINKERS! Teaching is not only imparting skills and knowledge about the subject but nurturing a supportive collaborative milieu. Such an environment is beneficial not only for the institute but for the overall community and nation-building at large.

For centuries, India has a rich ingrained history of knowledgeable, trailblazer and world-class ace teachers who had their special and unique style, talent, characteristics and qualities that differentiated them others. However, one thing all good teachers had in common….All of them were great Thinkers! Let’s have a look at three of the finest teachers in India, their astonishing exemplifications and traits that made them great.

Happy Reading!

  1. Savitribai Phule: -

“Sit idle no more, go, get an education"

‘First Lady Teacher' of India Savitribai Phule was born to a family of farmers of Mali Community, now the Other Backward Class (OBC). She was married at the tender age of 9, to a 12-year-old Jyotirao Phule (affectionately known as Jyotiba). Belonging to a backward community, she wasn't allowed to attend school, however; after watching her thirst for education her husband taught her how to read and write. Later she took formal training at Ms. Farar's Institution in Ahmednagar. Here are just a few other facts about India's first female teacher:-

  1. In 1848, at the age of 17, she started the first indigenously-run school for girls in Pune, Maharashtra and became the first female teacher in India.
  2. In that dark era for woman, they weren't allowed to leave their houses for work, during that time, when Savitribai headed for school every day she was verbally abused, harassed, humiliated and even attached with cow dung, stones, and mud by the locals. Though this couldn't stop a woman of grit and determination like Savitribai, she continued in her endeavor and carried two saris.
  3. Her first batch consisted of merely 8 girls. Within a few years, she was running three schools for 150 girl students. In her life she opened 18 schools for women, e is considered as India’s one of the first modern feminist.
  4. She even distributes free food in different areas, gave a stipend to grills for attending school and launched 52 free food hostels in Maharashtra.
  5. The Phule coupes together –

- Opened a night school for labourers and agriculturist.

- Adopted a son from a Brahmin widow who eventually grew up to become a doctor.

- Started a widow care center called ‘Balhatya Pritibandhak Griha' in their own house for pregnant Brahmin widows, rape victim, and pregnant child widow to save them from getting mistreated by the society. They helped them deliver and save their children.

- Founded the "Satyashodhak Samaj" intending to help Shudra, Dalit, and other less privileged women from getting exploited. They arranged low-cost weddings in the Samaj, with no priest and no dowry. They even conducted their adopted son's marriage under this Samaj. After her husband’s demise, she became the chairperson of the Samaj serving the society till her last breath.

6. Rich upper-class Zamindars who had well, would not allow untouchable to draw water from their well, so she opened a well outside her house for them.
7. She protested and lead a successful strike against the barbers to deter them and condemn the brutal practice of shaving the heads of widows.
8. She not just played a pivotal role in encouraging women education but also fought against unfair social practices like child marriage, sati pratha, untouchability, caste and gender discrimination.
9. After her husband passed away in 1890, she carried the unreal mud-pot herself and led the funeral procession of her husband.
10. He was also an outstanding poet and philosopher.
Her first collection of poems – Kavya Phule – was published in 1854.

Go, Get Education

Be self-reliant, be industrious

Work, gather wisdom and riches,

All gets lost without knowledge

We become animal without wisdom,

Sit idle no more, go, get education

End misery of the oppressed and forsaken,

You’ve got a golden chance to learn

So learn and break the chains of caste.

Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast.

— Poem by Savitribai Phule.

11. Finally, she did a heroic death, in 1897, when the worldwide Third Pandemic of the bubonic plaque severely affected the area around Nallaspora, Maharashtra she with her adopted son, opened a clinic at stern outskirts of Pune to treat those infected by the disease. She bought a 10-year-old boy from Munshwa to the clinic strapped to her back where her son treated him. The boy got saved but unfortunately, she contracted the plague and died on the 10th of March, 1897.

12. In honour of a great educationist and iconic social reformer, Pune City Corporation created a memorial for her in the year 1983. In 2015, the University of Pune was renamed as Savitribai Phule Pune University and on 10th of March, a stamp was released by India Post in honour of Savitribai.

Teachers like her reinforce the idea of “education for all”. Her story continues to inspire millions. Respect!

2. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan:-

“The true teachers are those who help us to think or ourselves” – Dr. S. Radhakrishnan.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was a great philosopher, statesman, first Vice President and Second President of independent India. When his students requested him if they could celebrate his birthday, he humbly answered, “Instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege, if September 5 is observed as Teachers Day. And the rest is history. Since 1962, his birthday is celebrated as Teachers Day in our country.

“Teachers should be the best minds in the country”

He was respected not only in India but all across the globe. Let me share an anecdote to prove my point. Post-independence, diplomatic ties between India and the USSR weren't good. Joseph Stalin, secretary-general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–53) refused to meet India’s first ambassador for several reasons. Firstly, USSR was not sure whether India was really Independent as it remained a dominion of British in the commonwealth. Secondly, Stalin considered Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union (Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister) arrogant and patrician. Lastly, the state-controlled Russian press termed India as an ‘imperialistic lackey'. So in 1949, Jawaharlal Nehru decided to send an accountable and faithful man, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan to Moscow as India's ambassador.

After six months in January 1950, Dr. Radhakrishnan got an opportunity to meet Stalin. The meeting lastly for nearly three hours and Dr. S. Radhakrishnan uncomplainingly answered Stalin’s questions like “Why Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was not a part of India?”, “If India still employed British officers in their army and navy?” Stalin was also curious to know about Indian languages and which was the most dominant among them? After which Dr. S. Radhakrishnan suggested that USSR should end the cold war, to which Stalin retorted, it did not “depend on him alone. It takes two hands to clap”. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s reply left him speechless. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan said, “As a peace-loving country, the Soviet Union should withdraw its own hands as it takes two hands to clap”. During the entire meeting, most of the times, Stalin addressed Dr. S. Radhakrishnan as PROFESSOR. Within three years Dr. S. Radhakrishnan changed the equation positively of India’s relationship with the USSR.

“The need of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature”.

He served as a foundation for Indo-Russian ties that are carried forward successfully even today.

“Books are the means by which we build bridges between cultures”.

3. Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam: -

“I believe there is no other profession in the world that is more important to society than that of a teacher”.

Great teachers believe in Simplicity! What could be a better example than of our very own ‘People's President', a great scientist, TEACHER and a former President of India….Bharat Ratna Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabadeen Abdul Kalam better known as Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. Admiringly, known as “Missile Man of India’ he was India’s 11th President for the team 2002-2007.

Let me begin a small anecdote… Once he was asked by a student, "What you like to be remembered in history as a great Scientist, as the President of India or as a Great Teacher?" President Kalam's reply was epic. He said, "I want to be remembered as a good human being." Amazing isn't it?

“A teacher has to create lifelong autonomous learners”.

Here are few more anecdotes to prove his candor:-

  1. Immediately after he elected as the President, he invited a roadside cobbler and the owner of a small hotel at an event at Kerala Raj Bhavan in Trivandrum.
  2. He didn't have a television set at home. He would listen to the news of All India Radio.
  3. When he was invited as a Chief Guest at the convocation ceremony at IIT, Varanasi he requested to sit on a bigger chair as he never believed in the pecking order.
  4. Once when his junior at DSRO couldn’t take his kids to an exhibition due to hectic work, he took the initiative and took the children to the exhibition.
  5. As President, Dr. Kalam would meet young children at his chamber at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, listen to their ideas and provide valuable feedback.
  6. He loved meeting hi old teachers. Just a week before his death, he met his Physics and Thermodynamics teacher Rev. Fr Ladislaur Chinnadurai (94 years) at Dindugal. He whispered, "A teacher lights many lamps."
  7. He gave up all his life’s savings and salaries to PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas), a trust he founded.

“Teachers are the backbone of any country, the pillar upon which all aspirations are converted into reality”.

Recollecting his father’s advice, he suggested, “Never receive a gift; a gift is always accomplished by some purpose.” An avid writer and poet Dr. Kalam recited a poem from the lesson he learned under his father’s guidance.

“Teachers have a great mission to ignite the minds of the young”.

Finally, once when in an interview he was asked about the moment when he felt the happiest in life. His retort will surely leave you amazed. He said, “When we were working on Agni missile he visited a hospital where there were around 40 children under 15 years who couldn't walk properly as they didn't have two complete legs and requires calipers whose weight was around 4 kgs. With suggestions from one of a Professor, they made calipers by the material which is used in Agni missile and subsequently the weight of calipers increased to 400kgs. Now the children could run on their own feet and their parents' eyes were filled with tears of happiness. He concluded that when he saw their parents he felt like he was the happiest soul on earth and h considers that moment as the happiest moment of his life.

Yes, sir, you were indeed the noblest and clean soul on the planet who made us proud.

“Te role of the teacher is like the proverbial ladder, it is used by everyone to climb up in life, but the ladder itself stays in its place”.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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